The Latin Connection

Pictured Above: Artist George Campbell.

Pictured Above: Artist George Campbell.

Artist George Campbell is a name that can be added to the list of talented Irish people who found ultimate appreciation on foreign soil. Joyce, Beckett, Wilde, Wogan and Father Ted are but a few whose genius was only realised when they left Ireland.

Campbell, pictured above, wryly remarked that a painter is always without profit in his own country. Arklow-born Campbell spent his winters in Malaga in what he described as his “home away from home” and in which a square was named after him in 2003, Glorieta Jorge Campbell.

Ireland is renowned for ignoring the achievements of its offspring but credit for Campbell’s Spanish acknowledgment is largely due to a personal friend, who campaigned for the honour on Campbell’s behalf, Antonio Sierra, a Spanish national who lived in Sandymount for 34 years.

Ironically, the manner in which Sierra speaks of Ireland echoes Campbell’s affection for Spain. “I see Sandymount as my own village,” said Sierra, while friends of Campbell say, “He was always saying, ‘I can’t wait to get back to Spain’.” In fact, while in Spain, Campbell was often mistaken for a Basque person, particularly when he wore his chapel (Basque Beret). “I think he had Spanish blood in him,” his widow Madge would say.

Sierra is project Director with The Latin American Institute of Ireland, which is to serve as a centre of contact and carry out and co-ordinate research in a broad range of fields relating to Irish-Latin American relations.

He is currently promoting an exhibition of Campbell’s work which takes place in Adam’s Gallery near St Stephen’s Green, where it will run for four weeks in July before transferring to Clandeboye for August/September, where it forms part of the Clandeboye Festival in Co. Down.

Campbell moved to Northern Ireland as a young boy and the violence brought about by WW2 is said to have left its mark on him. This exhibition is aptly entitled The Belfast Boys.

Sierra has also made a documentary called Looking for George (Buscando a Joge) about Campbell’s life and has given a number of presentations in Pearse St Library.

Copies of this documentary can be obtained from Pearse St Library. Telephone 01 6744888 or email.

For further information on Campbell or the Latin American Cultural Institute, contact Antonio Sierra. Email or telephone +34 615337715.

By Maria Shields O’Kelly